No centuries, but determined Bavuma and De Kock come to Proteas’ rescue
Batsmen who get themselves out within sight of a test century shouldn’t expect too much praise – what happened to those last few runs?
But Quinton de Kock and Temba Bavuma‚ who scored 91 and 89 for South Africa on day two of the second test against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve in Wellington yesterday‚ don’t deserve to be held to that measure.
For one thing‚ it’s simplistic: the only real difference between 90 and 100 is a marginal 10 runs; nothing more‚ nothing less. For another‚ it doesn’t take into account the wider context of a day’s play that ended with South Africa on 349/9 in reply to New Zealand’s first innings of 268 – a lead of 81.
De Kock and Bavuma’s runs were realised after South Africa had dwindled to 94/6‚ and the recovery they started made this only the 10th time in 946 innings that a team who have lost six wickets for fewer than 100 have reached 300.
Those vital runs were scored by batsmen who have been glancing over their shoulder at an advancing dark cloud of pressure. De Kock’s last four innings in New Zealand – two of them in the one-day series –have been ended cheaply by Jeetan Patel‚ a garrulous‚ 36-year-old off-spinner with a shaved head and the beginnings of a boep.
Bavuma scored 64 in the first innings of the opening match of the series in Dunedin last week. But that was his only half-century in nine test innings.
Both‚ then‚ needed to issue reminders of why they are playing at the highest level.
They delivered them in a partnership that swelled to 160 which began after a mad hour in which South Africa lost JP Duminy‚ Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis to Colin de Grandhomme and Neil Wagner‚ and for the addition of only 35 runs.
Kane Williamson brought Patel on to bowl in the over after De Kock took guard‚ and his first delivery to the left-hander was soundly rapped through the off side for two. De Kock was more positive in his approach and his footwork‚ and his reward was 37 runs off the 43 balls he faced from Patel.
The kid’s confidence is back‚ as evidenced by him smashing consecutive deliveries not only from Patel but also from Tim Southee, Wagner and Patel for six and four.
With his fourth test ton looming, De Kock hung out a lazy bat to Jimmy Neesham and was caught behind.
Bavuma alternated audacity with crystal clear sensibility – at one stage he leapt high to try to uppercut a steeper from Wagner that he would have needed a stepladder to reach.